George Washington (Ceracchi)
Bust at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
|Dimensions||73.3 cm × 55.9 cm × 33 cm (28.9 in × 22.0 in × 13 in)|
George Washington is a marble bust portrait of George Washington, done in the style of a Roman emperor, by the Italian sculptor Giuseppe Ceracchi. It was created as part of a campaign by Ceracchi to build a larger monument to Washington. The bust was thought by many to be one of the most lifelike. It was later used as a model of Washington for works by other sculptors and engravers.
In the spring of 1791, Ceracchi came to Philadelphia, then the seat of the United States government, in an attempt to get a commission from Congress for a "Monument designed to perpetuate the Memory of American Liberty" featuring an equestrian statue of Washington. While waiting for congressional action, he made bust portrait models of several of the founding fathers, such as John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton. Initially, Washington did not want to pose for the sculptor, but eventually did so in late 1791, early 1792. Ceracchi left for Europe in 1792, and then returned to Philadelphia in 1794. He then had Washington sit for him again to finish the bust from life in 1795.
Ceracchi portrayed Washington in the style of a Roman emperor, with short wavy hair, wearing a toga, which is pinned by a rosette brooch.
Washington refused to accept the gift of this bust from Ceracchi in 1795, though it was displayed in the president's residence until the sculptor presented him with a bill of $1,500 for it that spring, at which point the bust was sent back to Ceracchi. However, the bust was then bought by the Spanish minister, Josef de Jaudenes y Nebot, and shipped to Spain. It was next bought by Richard W. Meade, an art collector, who brought it back to Philadelphia. After his death, it was acquired by Gouverneur Kemble of Cold Spring, New York. Subsequently it was in the collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In 1904, it was purchased by John Lambert Cadwalader. After his death in 1914, it was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is now displayed in the American Wing.
In 1809, Thomas Appleton, an American consul in Italy, acquired a plaster cast of the model. Later, this was used by the Italian sculptor Massimiliano Ravenna to create several marble copies. About 1816, one of these was bought by the White House for $80 and is now located there.
The bust was also used as a model for engravings of Washington. One such engraving was included in the Life of George Washington by Washington Irving.
- By Henry Bryan Hall, c. 1856
- "George Washington". Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- Ceracchi, Giuseppe (October 31, 1791). "To George Washington from Giuseppe Ceracchi, 31 October 1791". Founders Online, National Archives.
- Ceracchi, Giuseppe (October 31, 1791). "Enclosure: Giuseppe Ceracchi to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, October 31, 1791". Founders Online, National Archives.
- Bryant, Julius (2011). "Ceracchi, Giuseppe". In Marter, Joan M. The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art. Oxford University Press. pp. 426–27. ISBN 978-0-19-533579-8.
- Hart, Charles Henry (1897). "Life Portraits of George Washington". McClure's Magazine. p. 303.
- Mount, Harry (2007). "Emperor Washington". Carpe Diem: Put a Little Latin in Your Life. Tantor Media, Inc. p. 114.
- Gardner, Alvert Ten Eyck (March 1948). "Fragment of a Lost Monument" (PDF). The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin: 190–194.
- "George Washington". National Portrait Gallery.
- "Probably By Massimiliano Ravenna (Italian, Active Early 19th Century)". Christie's. January 15, 2004.
- "Selections from the C. W. McAlpin Collection". Washington’s Physical Appearance in Portraits: New York Public Library.
- Irving, Washington (1863). "Appendix: Portraits of Washington". Life of George Washington. 5. G. P. Putnam. pp. 325–353.
- "George Washington, (sculpture)". Inventory of American Sculpture, Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Smithsonian American Art Museum. IAS 08930040.
- "George Washington, (sculpture)". Inventory of American Sculpture, Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Smithsonian American Art Museum. IAS 08650170.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bust of George Washington by Giuseppe Ceracchi.|
- Gardner, Alvert Ten Eyck (March 1948). "Fragment of a Lost Monument" (PDF). The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin: 189–197.
- "George Washington, by Giuseppe Ceracchi". Metropolitan Museum of Art.